Canadian Manufacturing

Trudeau, Wynne must act to support steel industry amid ‘deepening crisis,’ Steelworkers says

Call for action comes as Essar Steel Algoma joins U.S. Steel Canada in creditor protection



Essar Steel Algoma filed for creditor protection earlier this week. USW is now calling on Trudeau and Wynne to support the industry in "crisis." PHOTO: Nowosielski, via Wikimedia Commons

Essar Steel Algoma filed for creditor protection earlier this week. USW is now calling on Trudeau and Wynne to support the industry in “crisis.” PHOTO: Nowosielski, via Wikimedia Commons

TORONTO—The United Steelworkers union is calling on Prime Minster Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne to defend the country’s more than 100,000 steelworkers and pensioners who are threatened by a “deepening steel industry crisis.”

Earlier this week, Essar Steel Algoma Inc. filed for creditor protection with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, joining long-troubled U.S. Steel Canada in court-supervised protection. Sault Ste. Marie-based Algoma employs nearly 3,000 people and impacts, directly or indirectly, as many as 15,000 jobs in the Northern Ontario city.

“The time for real action is now,” USW national director, Ken Neumann, said.

“Will this government continue its predecessor’s record of neglecting our industrial and manufacturing base, or will it take meaningful action to stand up for thousands of families whose jobs and pensions are at stake?” he asked.

USW sent an open letter to Canada’s newly-elected PM requested a meeting to discuss measures Canada could take to support the steel industry last week.

Facing increasing pressure on numerous fronts, foremost among them, Chinese steel “dumping,” USW noted European governments are already committing to taking significant immediate action to protect their steel industries and counter subsidized steel.

“We need a similar response,” USW Ontario director, Marty Warren, said. “Canadian workers and pensioners are asking – Where are our governments? Why are they not defending our jobs and our communities?”

A report released earlier this week found the Canadian steel industry could hemorrhage 60,000 jobs if subsidized Chinese steel was allowed to enter Canada unrestricted.

“Over the years, our governments told us that, with globalization we had to become more competitive, more efficient, that we had to think outside the box – and we’ve done that,” Mike Da Prat, president of USW Local 2251, which represents hourly workers at Essar Steel Algoma, said.

“But we also need fair trade rules because we have fixed costs for health and safety, for environmental protection, etc. Our governments continue to allow the dumping of cheap steel from countries that neglect health and safety, that pollute the environment and that violate human rights in their workplaces.

“We need Justin Trudeau to deliver on his promise of stimulating the economy and supporting fair trade,” Da Prat added.

Warren and Neumann also co-signed an open letter to Wynne last week, in which they demanded immediate action at the provincial level.

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